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WTF? California Court Sentences Dad to Hard Labor for Making His 8-Year-Old Son Walk a Mile

WTF? California Court Sentences Dad to Hard Labor for Making His 8-Year-Old Son Walk a Mile

Lenore Skenazy | Reason -- 

A year ago today, Mike Tang, a research chemist in Riverside, California, was frustrated and worried. He'd told his son to do his homework—read a grade-level book, like the teacher asked—but the boy, age 8, chose a baby book instead.

This was not the first time his son had done this, and previous punishments like taking away his videogames hadn't worked. So to put the fear of failure into his son, Tang drove him to the local shopping plaza at around 7:40 p.m. and showed him, "This is where homeless people sleep." (There were no actual homeless people present.) Mike then told the boy that he had to walk home, which was about a mile, along the same route that he walks to school. And off dad drove.

Someone quickly noticed the boy alone and called 911. Four police cars arrived a few minutes later, as did Tang and his own dad, coming to check up on the boy. They were shocked to find the cops there. Tang was not permitted to talk to his son. Instead he was handcuffed, charged with criminal child neglect, and taken to jail. He was released after midnight.

Meanwhile, a cop went to his home, entered it and lectured his wife on how to properly discipline kids: "Do you think it's right for an 8-year-old to walk that far in this cold weather? ... He could have been kidnapped."

At a jury trial over the summer, Tang represented himself. He hoped to explain that his son had walked the route many times, he himself had walked home in the dark at that age, even if the cops didn't agree with his discipline choices that didn't make him a criminal, and that the town's youth curfew of 10 p.m. meant that kids were allowed outside until that time.

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